Logistics of breaking up and moving out?
May 31, 2014 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I moved in to my girlfriend's apartment a little more than a year ago and decided this isn't the thing I want to do anymore. Is my escape plan appropriate?

Background: I met my current girlfriend a few years ago while we worked together (we still work together, but never see each other since the building is very big with lots of other people). About a year ago, I moved in with her. In the course of living with her, I've determined that I don't want to move forward with this relationship for various reasons (cleanliness, attitude, decision-making, health, professionalism, and general smothering-ness as I need time to be alone sometimes). We've also been growing apart, intimately speaking.

Short-term, I like spending time with her, in general, but I have to try really hard to ignore the issues listed above (easy to do when we are out doing things like dinner together). She showers me with gifts and supports me (for the most part) in my work and dumb hobbies. Long-term, I know it's best to let her go. Miko's Breakup Blueprint explains the situation perfectly. It's not fair to her for me to keep holding on to this -- she has expressed that she eventually wants to get married, but won't date forever. I don't want to marry her. I need to free her up to pursue a better match for herself.

I have depression and anxiety, although I think I've been doing a fabulous job of keeping both in check by focusing on my health, which does wonders and I don't want it to stop. I do sometimes still struggle with depression, especially when I consider this relationship (she is aware of all of this). I feel better when I think about everything I want to do after getting out of this relationship. I don't have many friends and my family lives far away. I've failed at breaking up with her once before, mostly because the emotions were overwhelming and I was afraid of being alone, period. This is the number one thing that concerns me about breaking up.

What is the best way to go about this? I was in a relationship a while ago where my girlfriend moved in with me. About two years after, she decided that it's best to break up (and I agreed, for the most part). I cried for only about an hour. She still stayed with me until she graduated college a couple of months after that. Her stuff was gone a week after. It was so drama-free. I don't think this is going to be drama-free because this girlfriend tends to have a pretty poor attitude, likes to create drama IMHO, and tries to manipulate. I fully expect her to be blowing up my phone (voice and text) and e-mail, but I know it needs to be no-contact, at least for a while. I'm also deeply attached to her dog, I'll probably miss the dog more than her, and get sad thinking about this part.

I'm considering going ahead and finding and renting an apartment before I break up, then have family visit me and help me move and stay just a little while longer, like a half-day or a day, to validate that I'm making the right decision, and that I'm staying balanced. Meals, gas, and sleeping space provided for them. We'll move one or two days after we break up. If she happens to come home while we're moving, I'm predicting a lower likelihood that she'll want to create a scene if my family is there (and they'll shut her down if she tries!). I'll also pay her my share of the rent for a couple months following, unless she creates drama. Is this a solid plan? Is this insensitive? Am I missing any special considerations?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You're missing the part where "I'll pay her my share of rent for a couple months, unless she creates drama." No. You'll pay her your share of rent for a reasonable time for her to find another roommate regardless what she does, and "crying for an hour" and no following drama whatsoever is not a fair or realistic expectation for exiting a multiple-year serious relationship this way.
posted by celtalitha at 5:19 PM on May 31, 2014 [28 favorites]

"I'll also pay her my share of the rent for a couple months following, unless she creates drama."

Well, let's see?

It sounds like you totally hate this person, and instead of giving her a chance to process, you're going to blindside her.

Um, what about your plan won't cause drama??

- How much longer on her lease?

- Are you on the lease?

- Can you afford to write her the check in one lump sum? Because this is really really really what you should do, regardless of her reaction to being blindsided.

If you think she is going to blow up your phone, find a way to block her number or just get a new number and don't give it out to her.
posted by jbenben at 5:20 PM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

What would really creep me out, if I were your girlfriend, is realizing that you had been planning this for a long time, while we were still interacting as a couple. This realization would make me distrust my own perceptions, in a way that would be deeply disturbing.

If it were me, I would want you to move NOW, into some kind of temporary housing, rather than continue to deceive me while preparing your move.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:23 PM on May 31, 2014 [32 favorites]


I think it is OK to pack up and move you're stuff out in the middle of the day without any warning if that's what you feel you need to do.

I'm just pointing out that even a reasonable person would find this highly upsetting.

Like I said, if you need to - do it. Just don't fool yourself into thinking she's a crazy person for flipping out about it.

Anyone would flip out about an intimate relationship ending this way.

(I think feral goldfish is right and that you should move into temporary housing immediately. Good luck.)
posted by jbenben at 5:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

Also yeah, I was trying not to say this in a totally heartless way, but you sound like you have zero empathy for this woman, especially framing her potential upset and heartbreak as "drama," "causing a scene," "manipulation" etc etc. I'm sorry, but most people don't just discover their relationship is single-handedly ending, nod, sadly say "ok" and go off to the grocery store to buy milk.

On preview: "If you need to - do it. Just don't fool yourself into thinking she's a crazy person for flipping out about it." THIS THIS THIS.
posted by celtalitha at 5:27 PM on May 31, 2014 [28 favorites]

If she happens to come home while we're moving, I'm predicting a lower likelihood that she'll want to create a scene if my family is there (and they'll shut her down if she tries!).

It's not fair for you and your family to jointly gang up on her just because you'd like to escape "drama".

Also, definitely agree with the above that your "plan" seems to be to blindside her and not give her a chance to process at all. You don't seem to be thinking of her at all, only making things as easy as possible for yourself.

Also, you have to give her money for several months rent and utilities (whether you're on the lease or not), not just "unless she creates drama". You are actually planning on possibly punishing her for creating "drama" by withholding rent from her? Do you think rent is some favor from you or something?
posted by Blitz at 5:28 PM on May 31, 2014 [23 favorites]

I think it is OK to pack up and move you're stuff out in the middle of the day without any warning if that's what you feel you need to do.

I disagree with this. It's not okay unless she's been abusing you or something. She deserves some kind of warning.
posted by Blitz at 5:32 PM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

There's no "good" or "bad" or "easy" way to dis-integrate. Just tell her you're breaking up and that you're moving out.

Pack your shit up in advance. Make an appointment with a moving company. Tell her that it would be better for all involved if she weren't there when the moving company comes.

No matter what you do, it's going to suck. Accept it, mitigate it, man up and move on.
posted by BadgerDoctor at 5:35 PM on May 31, 2014

What the hell? There's something about your phrasing that's very cold and off-putting; referring to your "escape plan;" you're more attached to her dog than to her; your family will shut her down if she tries to make drama; and you'll pay your share of rent unless she causes a scene.

She's your girlfriend, she probably loves you and you guys live together. She thinks you two have a future. I think it's safe to assume she's going to be completely blindsided by this and of course she's going to be upset.

Can you take some time to consider how to break up with her kindly and thoughtfully...maybe not refer to this as your escape plan??

Plan how you're going to break this to her (Jesus...don't have your family around), and then prepare yourself that you may shock her and it would be a kindness to let her talk. Let her talk with you. Tell her your moving plans. Don't get your family involved.

And please don't mention you will miss her dog than you will miss her.
posted by kinetic at 5:37 PM on May 31, 2014 [37 favorites]

All I know is, if you treat her understandable unhappiness as "drama", I can almost guarantee you're going to get real drama. Because no one likes having their feelings devalued or dismissed. Or to be treated like an easily-discarded, irrational idiot. It's crazymaking and manipulative - which is funny, because you're raring to characterize any misery on her part as manipulative.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:39 PM on May 31, 2014 [22 favorites]

You're being really cold and unrealistic here, so I'm going to go with that - as a roommate, you have a responsibility to pay your half of the lease going forward. That's what I would do to a roommate if I suddenly decided I couldn't live there any more; I'd pay my portion of the rent until they found a new roommate, and I wouldn't interfere with that process with all (so if they didn't find anyone, I'd pay my rent until the lease term is over.)

Break up with her today, start looking for an apartment today, get out as soon as you can, but you should pay for the remainder of your portion of the lease.

You're right, by the way - she'll be much better off without you.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:42 PM on May 31, 2014 [14 favorites]

One thing I've seen some people do, which is maybe a wee bit manipulative/dragging things out longer than is strictly necessary, is to propose moving out as somewhat of a separate thing from the specific breakup speech. So, like, you might say that you don't feel like living together is working out, and you'd like to not live with her anymore. Table the 100% Really And Truly Permanently Breaking Up conversation for after both of you have alternate living arrangements.

I also think that all of this is going to depend heavily on where you live and what the housing market is like. If you live in an expensive major city where most single people have to have roommates, and most cohabitating couples share a one bedroom apartment, moving out and breaking up really is going to be a very long process and not a half-day thing. You're going to have to discuss this heavily, figure out what to do about your lease, go through the process of finding a new place to live (something that can take months), etc. There is going to be drama, and it's going to suck, and that's just the way it's going to be.

If you live in a cheaper area where the assumption is that she could afford the place on her own, and a new place for you is a matter of an afternoon of house hunting, obviously it will be easier, and your idea of sort of painlessly dropping "it's not you, it's me" and then peacing out might be a little bit closer to reality. However, yeah, of course you can expect drama and frustration and overall a longer and more complicated situation than if you guys didn't live together.

Also, yes OF COURSE she deserves some kind of warning, unless you literally fear for your life or something. Frankly, I feel like any relationship of more than a few months deserves more than just a sudden "This isn't working out" one-conversation breakup. The longer you're with someone, the weirder it is when the other person thinks they can just peace out in the course of a conversation.
posted by Sara C. at 5:42 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

You need to talk to her. If you were afraid of her it would be different, but you just sound like you couldn't be bothered. It's insensitive to make all of these life-altering plans alone and then blindside her with them as you move out and she's surrounded by your family. I'm not saying you need to go *hard* on yourself, but jeez, you can stand to be kinder and more compassionate than *that.*

You need to be an adult and discuss how the change of residence and end of your relationship is going to occur and then you both need to sort it out in a way that feels relatively equitable (pay your part of the rent through the end of the lease term, or whatever). If you don't think that an amicable breakup is possible -- as in, she becomes dangerous, she's unwilling to be in any contact with you over logistics, etc, not as in, she's just heartbroken and you don't want to deal with it -- then you can figure out more then. But starting from the position that you're going to blindside her with a breakup and then hold your half of the rent over her head unless she "behaves," ie, doesn't make trouble for you, is cruel.

I get that you're feeling angry/vindictive/betrayed/etc, but you still need to act like a decent human being regardless. She's going to be in pain and in a tough spot (financially as well, in all likelihood) and you need to respect that. If you don't, she'll get upset and probably will lash out at you, and it's also just mean on your part if you don't give her at least that much respect. Have enough pride not to treat a woman that you presumably once loved like that, if nothing else.

Also, if you actually want to avoid drama, don't tell her why you're breaking up with her, or that you'll miss her dog more than her, or any of that stuff. It's just going to lead to bad blood.

For context, I have had a really ugly, (physically) frightening, and financially ruinous breakup with a live-in boyfriend and even I had a normal sit-down breakup with him a couple weeks before I moved out, we discussed finances, I tried to be generous toward him in splitting up the stuff and took the financial hit rather than feel like a jackass, etc. And he had about a foot in height and 80 lbs on me, plus a love of firearms. If I can suck it up and keep my dignity and sense of compassion through a rough breakup like that, you can, too.
posted by rue72 at 5:45 PM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

Frankly, I don't even think it's OK/a good idea to pack in advance. You've been with this person at least a year, probably more like two or even more. Breaking up is going to be a conversation, not a "the movers arrive in an hour so hereby may you be informed that our relationship is over" kind of announcement.

I would be distressed as fuck to come home to find my boyfriend literally packing his shit, out of the blue, with no prior awareness that things weren't working out.
posted by Sara C. at 5:48 PM on May 31, 2014 [10 favorites]

I'll probably miss the dog more than her, and get sad thinking about this part.

DUDE. Seriously? If you are this callous about the relationship, just get out asap and cut her a check for the rent every month until she finds a roommate.
posted by zug at 5:57 PM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm considering going ahead and finding and renting an apartment before I break up, then have family visit me and help me move and stay just a little while longer, like a half-day or a day, to validate that I'm making the right decision, and that I'm staying balanced. Meals, gas, and sleeping space provided for them. We'll move one or two days after we break up. If she happens to come home while we're moving, I'm predicting a lower likelihood that she'll want to create a scene if my family is there (and they'll shut her down if she tries!). I'll also pay her my share of the rent for a couple months following, unless she creates drama. Is this a solid plan? Is this insensitive? Am I missing any special considerations?

Holy crap, this is some fucked up shit. You're not going to discuss this with her at all? You need your family there to protect you from her being upset? You sound terrified of her, and you sound incredibly self-centered. This is not how grown-ups end a relationship unless you feel a need to get out quickly for safety reasons. You haven't said she abuses you, so gland up and let her know you're ending things and moving out, and deal with the possible reactions.

And pay your rent for at least two months, regardless of whether she behaves the way you want her to. She's allowed to be upset.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:57 PM on May 31, 2014 [13 favorites]

Breaking up sucks, and there's going to be anger and sadness and confusion. As an adult you need to deal with it because that is how adults handle things.

Sit down and use Miko's script. Explain that you'll be making plans to move, then do it.

You're not allowed to slink out under cover of night (or family) just because you can't be bothered to tell the woman you've lived with and fucked for the past few years that you don't love her after all.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:07 PM on May 31, 2014 [17 favorites]

If you dump someone and they are upset about it, they are not the ones making "drama", you are. That doesn't mean that it's not okay to leave. That just means that you have to accept that there are consequences to the leaving, and that those consequences include you having to endure some discomfort during this process. This is going to be a time that is going to include some unhappiness for both of you. You don't get to make it so that she's the only one. And that's okay. You will be okay even if she cries and screams and cajoles and whatever. If you want to have someone else there while you move your stuff out, do it in the name of making sure this upset doesn't cross over to property getting wrecked, but dear lord, let her cry.

It is absolutely going to make your anxiety act up. I think it's a good idea to go to your doctor now and explain this and make sure that your medication and stuff is set so that you're capable of handling how upsetting this is going to be. The fact that you aren't the sort of person who cries a lot means nothing about how reasonable it is for other people to do the same, but that doesn't mean you have to stay, it doesn't mean you have to have long fights about this before you leave, it doesn't mean any of that. It just means that you have to let her have the emotional experience of this that she's going to have. It doesn't mean you have to answer her calls or speak to her again once you're moved out. It does mean that you should help out with rent based on your financial ability to do so and her needs, not her emotional response.
posted by Sequence at 7:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Meh. I feel like when you're at the point where the relationship is over, you help no one by doing the crying, "but why" conversation. I mean, yes, respectfully tell them it's over, but then your obligation ends and you absolutely have the right to cut off contact, get your things without having a prolonged emotional conversation, etc. You absolutely have the right to block her number and just move on.

Frankly, since you've broken up with her then reconciled once before, quick and permanent is kinder than slow and full of opportunity for false hope. And really, who with any pride at all would want to have an emotional, vulnerable conversation with someone who dislikes them? Not me, that's for sure.

Anyway, your plan sounds good but you should pay as certain amount of rent regardless of drama on her part. Decide what's fair now and stick to it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh and people are right that this will suck for her, but I highly doubt it will suck much more if you're brusque about it. If anything, she will have an easier time moving forward if she thinks you're a jerk. Better to be dumped by an emotionally immature ingrate than a kind, gentle person who has determined that you're awful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:45 PM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm considering going ahead and finding and renting an apartment before I break up, then have family visit me and help me move and stay just a little while longer, like a half-day or a day, to validate that I'm making the right decision, and that I'm staying balanced.

Honestly, and I don't mean this unkindly, but... why are you affording yourself so much more emotional flexibility than her? I don't know either of you, so maybe she is a total drama-llama, but I just think to put all the emotional emphasis on her "poor attitude" and none of it on your anxiety and depression is probably gilding the lily a bit.

But to answer your direct question, there is no best or kindest way to break up with someone who doesn't see it coming and wants to be with you. You're probably right -- this isn't meant to be. It's just unreasonable to expect her to be as checked out as you are, and there is just no magical combo of events that would guarantee that.
posted by sm1tten at 7:46 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

So, years ago i used to live in a house with my partner and another couple(which consisted of my partners best friend from highschool/college, and her boyfriend).

Her boyfriend pulled this exact routine after quite a while, at least this long. probably longer, actually. Including the parents and all that.

It was incredibly fucking awkward, and honestly struck me as really bizarre and drama-making. The parents being there made all the interactions between her and him when she showed up REALLY awkward, not just like smooth and diffused. His family also packed up some stuff that didn't belong to him and that created even more awkwardness, and yes, drama. The entire thing was just fucking terrible. And they were both relatively low drama, introverted people. I had lived in sharehouses for years at that point, and seen cohabitating couple breakups go down. That one sticks out as a particularly ugh one.

The way you are describing doing this is not the lowest conflict or lowest drama way, and it honestly feels kinda callous and almost unethical to me.

The various scripts along the lines of "have a chat and say i want to break up and move out>make plans to move out and figure that all out>do it" above is the proper way to do this.

For what it's worth, i don't think you're a crappy callous person like some of the other people here for the missing the dog more than her comment here. Some people emotionally separate on various levels on their own before they actually realize they're done, and you're not a terrible person for not processing those feelings as quickly as someone else thinks you should. It could be put more eloquently, but i get the sort of feelings you're describing. And it's "I'm very much done here, i've realized" not "i'm a sociopath".

I think finding an apartment is fine, but i think you should actually talk to her first and essentially do... what you described about that previous breakup. Sit her down and talk about it, make a plan, then move on. Don't try and do some fly by night shit here.

Because yea, in my experience and from what i've seen trying to sneak this kind of stuff out creates A THOUSAND TIMES more drama than just being an up front adult about it.
posted by emptythought at 8:34 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Dude if she wants to scream at you for a few hours then let her scream at you for a few hours. You're the one pulling the goddam plug, at least give her the opportunity to say what she feels. And holy hell having your family there? Why are you even involving them? How is it their business? I have broken up with women in awful ways, it's a regrettable part of growing up, but this is above and beyond.

So yes, organise the moving company and temp accom, then sit down and have the talk, then propose moving out/covering her expenses. It will be awful; sack up and take it, then move on with your life.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:41 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

From the OP:
OP here. Sorry, it appears my question was perhaps poorly-worded and overshadowed some of the details.

We have been discussing these issues, every single one that I've mentioned here, which is when she told me she doesn't want me to stick around if I don't plan on marrying her. I also mentioned that we've been growing apart, generally and intimately. This isn't going to be a surprise.

People don't change. I've learned to not try to sell something to someone that's not buying. I don't want to try to turn her into something she's not.

No, I never said my family would be there when I break up with her. I said they would be with me to help me move out. I don't know why so many people saw it this way, but I never said my family would be there for the conversation. Give me SOME credit, I'm a human being that's aware a one-on-one conversation is most appropriate here.

It was also mentioned that I've tried to break up before, and was ready to move out, but through constant contact and manipulation, I gave in and we stayed together. The reason I plan is because I plan things out to help mitigate my anxiety. I don't like uncertainty. I'm confident that if I don't have everything in line then I won't go through with it and everyone is better off.

I want to avoid drama since we work at the same workplace. This is important to me.

Sorry that I tend to enjoy the company of animals over humans. I've come from an abusive household from my childhood, and volunteering at the animal shelter (and generally being around animals) is therapeutic for me. This is probably some of my introvertedness kicking in here. You may think I'm a bad person for this, but I'm being honest. Animals are my therapy.

I'm not on the lease, she did not have a roommate prior, at any point of her 4.5 years of residence in the apartment. Regardless, I'm happy to pay my share of the rent, in a lump sum or monthly payments, whatever is best for her.

I may be scum to you, but I would appreciate some helpful advice instead of sticking to a part of the picture to criticize my character. You all make me want to stay together because it seems I'm a callous, awful person for wanting to let the other person free to pursue someone that really would want to find someone that's a better match for her for the rest of her life. I'm not that guy, though.

The majority here seems to think that I'm taking this in stride and that life will go on as normal for me and I don't care for the other person. That's absolutely not the case. That's precisely why I'm asking for the hive's advice -- can I be doing this a better way?

I would never move out in the middle of the day while she's at work without telling her. THAT is callous. That is not what I'm asking about here. I don't think things like this should be a surprise. And it won't be.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:12 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

she told me she doesn't want me to stick around if I don't plan on marrying her

That is not a breakup speech.

You are still going to have to actually break up with her. And you're still going to have to do it in a respectful and emotionally open way, not, like, as the moving truck pulls up.

Here is what I would do. Assuming you have all your ducks in a row logistically to move (money for a deposit on a new place, a place to lay your head if she kicks you out immediately, etc), break up with her now. Have an actual conversation with her where you discuss where you are at, the relationship is over, and then talk about the practical aspects of separating your two households. Again, this is going to be a discussion, not an announcement. Whether to break up is not up for debate, but you still have to listen and understand and work with her to sort things out in an appropriate way that works for both of you. She still gets to be an emotional wreck and be furious with you. Because you're the dumper, and she's the dumpee, and that's how it goes.

Regarding working together, well, you shouldn't have moved in with your girlfriend who you also work with if you didn't want a dramatic breakup. That's entirely out of your hands at this point. That's not a criterion for deciding that there will simply be no pain, no awkwardness, and no emotions surrounding the end of your relationship.

Also, I highly recommend going no contact as soon as you can physically move out and no longer have obligations to her.
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

To be fair, OP, the last paragraph of your original post was really confusing. I think some of the answers you've got are because people couldn't tell where your family would be staying, and when, etc. I thought you looked like a cowardly asshole before the update, to be totally honest.

Now...eh. I still think you should keep your family away from her as much as possible. I mean, that's great if they'll come and stay with you in your new place and make sure you're okay, but have a bit of empathy. If I were your girlfriend, I'd hate to come back to my home after probably trying all day to hold it together at work, and then have to face your family. I think they should only be at her house helping move your stuff if she's not there.

I get that that won't be as comfortable for you, but you just have to suck that one up. Poor girl is going to be put through enough, she should at least be spared dealing with your family in her own home.
posted by Salamander at 9:38 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think that you're scum or that it's terrible that you'll miss the dog or that it's bizarre that you want to figure out a plan so that you don't end up sleeping in your car with all your stuff stuck in her apartment or anything else terrible about you. I do think that *yes* the breakup is going to be difficult and there's not really a way around that, and it's best to just keep your chin up and keep your dignity and compassion with you the whole way through. This is going to be a clench-your-jaw moment, but you can do it. Like I said above, if I could do this, you can do this.

For your reference, here's how I broke up with my ex, which meant splitting the household (and me taking my cat):

-- We were having problems, and I kept him informed of my decision-making process. So, I told him when I made a major move that would change our lifestyles. In your case, that would mean telling your gf things like, that you're apartment hunting. During *those* conversations we also talked about how we would theoretically split some things up (ie, logistics). Maybe you've already had these discussions with your gf, seeing as you know she'll be keeping the dog, etc. I think that these conversations are actually binding, though. If you say during this "prep" phase that you're going to be paying her rent through XYZ date, then you have to do it.

-- I figured out exactly what I wanted to do, in terms of practicalities. You might have already done this, too. In your case, that means knowing how long you think is reasonable to offer to give her your half of the rent, what you plan to take or sell, when you plan to move out, etc. At the point this was happening for me, I still wasn't sure about breaking up. It sounds like you've got all this stuff in place, so I think it's time to just talk to her about it and tell her what your plans are. And like I said, err on the side of being generous. If she's counting on you to do a particular favor for her or help her with some particular thing that she'd have trouble doing on her own, or if you always take care of something in the household and need to teach her or if it would be easier to just leave a certain thing behind because she needs it more than you do, anything like that, go ahead and do that. Like young rope-rider said, *she* might have trouble with your generosity because she might find it easier to villainize you. But for your own dignity, I think it's important not to act like an asshole. Or at least, it was for my dignity, in this past breakup, and I really recommend going that route. Neither you nor she are assholes, you're people who won't be getting married. There's no reason to become assholes just because you're people who won't be getting married to each other. You still, at least at one point, liked her better than anyone else, maybe loved her -- she (and you) still can have respect for that and for yourselves.

-- In my case, my ex instigated a really big, scary argument that ended in me running out of the house and not seeing him for something like a day and a half, during which time who even knows what he was doing (cough bender cough). I knew I had to break up with him but was really physically scared about it. I didn't want to blindside him and risk him flipping out at me, so I sent a few texts, basically saying that we had to have an important discussion, things were going badly and weren't working out, etc. That night when I got home, we had the Official Breakup Talk. It went horribly, he really didn't want the breakup to happen and basically tried to tantrum me into calling it off, and it went on ALL NIGHT. But I just kept it together and got through the night, and if nothing else it just proved that we were DONE. So yeah, I think the Official Breakup Talk is necessary, and you standing firm and not freaking out yourself is essential to getting through it.

-- Then, over the next couple weeks, I packed up and sold my stuff and solidified my arrangements for where I was going next. He tried to be gone a lot of the time. I'm not sure what your gf will be doing the same -- if not, you might have to take a couple days off work to pack while she's at work. I recommend being kind of brutal about getting rid of stuff, because a lot of it will now have bad memories anyway, and keeping things running as smoothly as possible while you make your exit is to your benefit. In your case, that's when you could be lining up the moving company (really recommend *against* using your family, that is an incredibly awkward situation for both them and for her), signing the new lease, listing things on Craigslist, packing, etc.

-- During that period, we tried to pull together and be civil, but it was a huge struggle. On the other hand, we did have some successes. Honestly, I think you should let her take the lead there. You've got your eyes on the prize (getting into your new place and starting your new life) and she's meanwhile getting left behind, so while you'll be able to work through everything on your own at your own pace in your new apartment, she's going to be stuck in the apartment you shared feeling rejected and she's going to be working through that *now.* So anyway, see how she handles things, just try to keep the peace as much as possible. Again, I would say to err on the side of generous and compassionate. Negotiate the finalities of what your post-breakup arrangements will be (in terms of logistics). Nail down what you'll be giving her financially, what you'll be taking and leaving, etc.

-- When the final date of me moving out loomed really close, my ex started really scaring me and flipping out and I ended up having to basically grab the last of what I could and just leaving a little early. In your case, it sounds like something similar might happen. That is probably also going to be the point where she'll make a last desperate bid to get you to get back with her. It might be *desperate,* as in trying to get you to have sex with her even if you're still officially broken up, threatening you or herself somehow, anything. Just keep your head down and keep moving.

-- After you're out, the only ties you *have* to keep with her are the ones you previously negotiated, meaning the check for half the rent you promised to send her or whatever. Any actual object that's in her possession at that point, I really strongly recommend you give up as lost. No contact might be tough because of logistics, but ONLY contact w/r/t logistics and this is when you go through the shitty but long and dull process of disentangling your social lives. Once your financial or other contractual ties are done, I recommend no contact as hard as I possibly can, but it sounds like you're already planning to go that route (good!).

-- Personally, I think you should GET A DOG! You earned it! And yeah, you'll miss her dog. That's perfectly normal. But obviously you're going to have a bunch of feelings about missing/!missing her, too, and...well, just plan to actively deal with those because otherwise they're liable to come back and bite you in the ass later.
posted by rue72 at 10:07 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

You owe her one months rent or a one month notice same as if she was a landlord or a roomate and no more. You aren't married. Very often drama - and you seem a bit keen on drama - will ensue the longer it takes to end a relationship.

For what it's worth I had a break-up after five years and I sorta missed the SO, I missed the stepkids a lot, but I really missed the dog. Dogs, unlike people on the internet, aren't judgemental.
posted by vapidave at 10:43 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you plan is fine. You've been having issues you reckon she's knows its coming so you're going to break up with her, move out a couple days later but continue to pay rent for several months/ length of lease so there is no immediate upheaval to her life but otherwise have no contact and be out of her hair? That's fucking perfect. Ideal. 10 out of 10.

Do what you need to do to prevent ugliness on your move out day. You need to pay your share of the rent no matter what though. Take the high road there.
posted by fshgrl at 11:16 PM on May 31, 2014

Use Miko's script, with the addendum "I'm moving out tomorrow to save us both heartbreak and to give you space. I will pay my share of rent and utilities through the end of June."

But the important thing, the MOST important thing: you do that today. Now. I have been (recently, in fact) on the other side of the blindside breakup that he'd apparently been thinking about for two weeks. It's the worst feeling imaginable, knowing that all those times everything seemed fine, they were actually thinking "How fast can I get out of this?"

Break up with her now. Today. Find some temporary space to live--couchsurf for a bit if needed and put your stuff in storage--and leave tomorrow. Be prepared to leave tonight if she asks you to.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

If I were your girlfriend, I'd hate to come back to my home after probably trying all day to hold it together at work, and then have to face your family. I think they should only be at her house helping move your stuff if she's not there.

Oh god yes. Especially since this is the family she has been hoping to marry into. (Of course, losing these potential in-laws might be her silver lining, but in that case, they're hardly the people she'll want in her place of refuge.)

FWIW, I don't think you're scum at all. I think you're someone who asked whether your plan was insensitive or failing to consider anything, and yes indeed it was, so hey, good for you for asking. (And I sympathize, because I've found my own drama-averse plans can prove ironically counterproductive in others' eyes.) Also, the dog thing makes TOTAL sense. (Personally I wouldn't be above channeling this emotion as a form of sadness you can safely show her, e.g. "No-contact feels for the best right now, but I'll always have fond memories of my time here with you & Fido," turning to pat Fido's head and bring him into the conversation as a welcome distraction.)
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:17 PM on June 1, 2014

I think your plan is a good plan, Anon. You can't control anyone's actions except your own, so planning things in such a way that you don't have to count on her good behaviour in order for things to go well is really the only smart choice.

Do you really want to have the "i'm breaking up with you" conversation when everything you own is still in her house? Even if you could get yourself out physically safely, would you want to leave all of your belongings in her hands?

Here's how I would do this (assuming that it's financially feasible for you): Rent a new place, take the day off of work and move the small stuff that you care the most about to it, make sure that you can reasonably comfortably spend the night at the new place. That evening, have the talk with her and leave when you've said your piece. You don't have sit there and take abuse (or yelling, crying, manipulation, whatever) just to make her feel better. You don't owe her closure.

Plan to have your family (or whichever moving friends can help you) around the next day when she can also be home. Make sure that she is ok with you packing up what you are packing up. Depending on her level of "drama" you might have to end up leaving some things that should be yours behind. This, to a certain extent is the price of a clean slate. However, if she insists on keeping major items (like, say, a TV that you purchased), you might want to consider taking that out of the rent that you will pay her for a reasonable period of time (maybe 1-2 months which is beyond generous given that it doesn't sound like you have any kind of lease obligations to her).

As far as the dog, I once let myself stay in a bad relationship for longer than I should have because I was concerned about the fate of the dog. It's so easy for many humans to feel obligated to subrogate our own best interests because of our feelings for more helpless creatures. Sadly, your relationship with the dog probably needs to end. You can get a dog of your own, and perhaps remain happy in the knowledge that GF's dog is going to remain loved and cared for by GF.

Good luck, Anon!
posted by sparklemotion at 12:44 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's hard for me to even reply to this because you come across as so callous that it's hard to even come up with a response.

The one thing I would say is this. If someone loves you and is attached and bonded to you, then breaking up with her unilaterally is going to cause her extreme pain. Extreme, excruciating pain.

Everywhere you use the word "drama," maybe you should replace it in your mind with the word "pain." Because if you see her crying or getting angry, or imploring you to see things differently, what you are seeing is not "drama," it's "pain."
posted by htid at 1:58 PM on June 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

I want to avoid drama since we work at the same workplace. This is important to me.

I'm sorry, I've struggled but cannot come up with a response to this other than "Are you fucking KIDDING me?"

If your girlfriend works with you, it is more incumbent upon you, not less, to do some kindnesses to make sure you are okay, and moving out like a thief in the night is not one of them.

Frankly, it sounds like you're depressed and hating your life - you have no friends, and your family is far away - and blaming your girlfriend for it and fantasizing about some ideal world where she's the only one holding you back from all the candy and sunshine you could have without her. So you pretending you're doing this for her sounds self-serving and callous as hell. You're cutting and running away from your life, but don't make it more noble than it is. And I think part of you knows that you're doing the wrong thing, because you're wanting your family out there, among other things, to help validate you in your decision.

Do not fly your family in to act as your security blanket. Break up with her like a man and take the completely legit consequences of her being hurt by your hurtful decision. There will, in the end, be much less drama.
posted by corb at 3:16 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


I may be scum to you, but I would appreciate some helpful advice instead of sticking to a part of the picture to criticize my character.

A person's character is defined largely by one thing, which is how he treats people who are vulnerable, who he is in a position to harm... and character mostly comes through when it would be easier, more fun, or more convenient to harm such a person.

Your basic question here is: I am going to hurt someone. How can I do it without inconvenience for myself? When that's what you are asking, you are certainly going to be judged for your character. If your question is instead: How can I cause the least harm to someone else, or not hurt them, and preferably make their life better? then you might get a different response.

However, you are not even close to the latter. The main aspect to avoiding harm is understanding it and empathizing with it. You hardly talk about your girlfriend as a human being. You compare her to a dog -- and the comparison is only in the context of how each thing benefits and pleases you. You dismiss her real, human feelings/pain and expression of them as "drama." You talk about your family "shutting her down" like she's a machine or a radio, or some inanimate object that creates noise.

The thought of you asking her what she wants, finding out as much as possible about her feelings (rather than "shutting her down"), asking and listening until she has Nothing More To Say rather than running and sneaking off like a blindsiding coward in the night, working hard to make this transition the best thing possible for her as per her needs, hasn't even crossed your radar. Your question is basically, "How can I shut this bitch up as fast as possible so I can get out of there without any hassle to myself?"

You want helpful advice? Think about what it actually means to you to have character, do those things, stop using the word "drama" in describing a human being's emotions, work really really hard to get in her shoes as a human being rather the callous way you're acting now, then decide how to treat her once you've done that.
posted by htid at 11:56 PM on June 1, 2014 [16 favorites]

"I've failed at breaking up with her once before"
"my escape plan"
"to validate that I'm making the right decision, and that I'm staying balanced"
"I need to free her up to pursue a better match for herself."

Figuring out the logistics is a red herring.

Have you ever broken up with anyone before? Because you sound like you don't truly believe that you have the right, or the ability, to break up with someone. To do it for your own reasons, whether other people agree or not.

I bet you've been about to break up with her many times before, but always doubted yourself. You convince yourself that she's too generous and supportive to deserve it. Or that it's unfair to deny her the future with you that she wants. Or that the emotional or practical aftermath will be too hard for you to deal with. Or that she'll just persuade you to keep going. You doubt so strongly that you can break up with her, that you come up with bullshit reasons for staying, like missing her dog.*

So you put together a super-detailed plan to boost your confidence. You think that maybe if you know what will happen at every step, if you know she can't reach you and convince you to stay, if MeFites can help you find a way to avoid "drama", you can actually do it. I think you're aware your plan is hurtful. You just think it's the only way you'll be able to go through with the breakup.

But you don't need the plan! You won't become ready because you've found the right plan, that's not how it works. You're ready when you feel deep inside that staying is just not right, and I think you're there already. You need to take the advice from the next thread over:
when someone comes to me with a major life decision that they are struggling with, they almost always knew the right thing to do before they walked in my door. What they actually needed from me was not advice, but to hear from me that they were not bad people for doing it.
Forget about the planning. Just walk up to her and say "We need to break up," as soon as possible. You're allowed to do that. Don't let it turn into a discussion. If you're tempted to give in, just remind yourself of the bad feeling you get when you imagine staying with her forever. Whatever happens afterwards, you can handle it. It'll be a huge relief, I promise.

* I've been there.
posted by vasi at 1:30 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd like to add, that the reason she's so needy and drama-prone right now is that you're clearly disengaging, but you're not talking about it.

It may make a HUGE difference in your discourse if you're honest, but kind and let her know where you and the relationship stands.

"Patty, I know that things have been rough for us for a while. I've been unhappy. I wanted to let you know that I'll be moving out as soon as I find a place."

Use whatever other words you like to break up, Miko's are pretty awesome.

It's not a bad idea to start looking for a new place. Certainly, you can ask your family to come and help you move.

One thing I will say, don't be surprised if she says, "Oh Thank Goodness! I've been thinking this for awhile, but I didn't want to hurt YOU!"
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:07 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Show her this post. She'll probably help you pack.
posted by stubbehtail at 10:58 AM on June 2, 2014 [6 favorites]

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